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Cellular Theories of Aging: Modern Aging Theories

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
  • Modern aging theories propose that our bodies decline due to changes in cellular structure and function. 

    By learning how to better care for our cells, including how to slow down the speed at which they age, we can potentially lead longer lives.

    Taking a cellular health supplement, like fatty15, can help reverse cellular aging and increase our longevity. 

Every year, we get another year older, and at a certain age, we begin to wonder just how many years we have left. Just how long, barring unexpected events, can we expect to live and live healthfully? 

It’s natural to ruminate on these questions. Scientists, too, have been thinking about them and researching the specific mechanisms that cause us to age. 

By approaching aging in the same manner as they do diseases, researchers are uncovering new ways to slow the aging process, take better care of the body, and live longer. We’ll cover what they’ve learned and give you practical ways you can use this information to make practical lifestyle changes that will lead to a longer, healthier life. 

What Is Aging?

Aging isn’t really a mystery until you understand the reasons why we age. While most of us assume that the passage of time is the reason we age, there’s a lot more to understand. Sure, time plays a role, but what exactly happens inside the body causes the changes that make us older. Specifically, those changes occur inside our cells.

Cellular Health 101

Your cells are the foundation of your body. Every tissue and organ is made up of cells that have specific functions. When our cells are healthy and functioning properly, our bodies are healthy and functioning. 

When cells age, tissues and organs age, and we begin to experience the symptoms of aging. From graying hair to wrinkled skin and everything in between, the secrets of aging are found in our cells. 

As our cells age, we age, which is why it’s so important that we place a greater emphasis on cellular health. By understanding the cellular functions that decline with age, we can approach our health and longevity differently, targeting these functions and offering better support so our cells age more slowly and healthfully. 

The 12 Hallmarks of Aging

Inside our cells are fully functioning organelles that power them to carry out their specific functions. These functions are responsible for energy production within the cell, waste removal, nutrient consumption and use, and regeneration. 

Through research, scientists have identified 12 specific ways that functions inside our cells break down, causing us to age. 

1. Genomic Instability

Our cells are subject to illness and disease, and when we become ill, it can sometimes lead to genetic damage within the cell. Diseases, medical conditions, and even exposure to toxins in the environment can change cellular DNA, resulting in instability in the cell. 

This instability is important because it is carried into new cells upon replication. 

2. Telomere Attrition

Telomeres carry a portion of our DNA at the end of each chromosome. These little protective ends support our chromosomes, and when DNA is replicated, the DNA contained in the telomeres is also replicated. 

Once cells have replicated numerous times, the telomeres become shorter, and less of the DNA is replicated in the new cells. This process is called telomere shortening and is another key driver in the aging process. 

3. Epigenetic Alterations

Changes we make to our own bodies can also change our cellular health and lead to faster cellular aging. Your level of physical activity, your diet, whether or not you smoke or drink alcohol, and even pregnancy can result in DNA alterations. 

4. Loss of Proteostasis

Each cell creates proteins for use within the cell and also designs specific pathways for the cell to use the proteins effectively. Over time, this system dysfunctions and leads to cells that are less and less viable. 

5. Deregulated Nutrient Sensing 

Your cells need nutrients to fuel cellular activity. The cell’s ability to pick up nutrients and use them happens through four specific pathways: IGF-1, mTOR, sirtuins, and AMPK. 

These pathways help the cell metabolize nutrients effectively, but as we get older, the pathways begin to lose function, leading to deregulated nutrient sensing. 

6. Mitochondrial Dysfunction

You probably remember studying mitochondria in high school biology. These organelles produce cellular energy, known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). 

When we’re young, our mitochondria pump out ATP effectively and efficiently. With age, mitochondria become sluggish. Less ATP is produced, leading to energy loss in every bodily system. 

That’s not the only problem. As mitochondria begin to decline, they begin to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS). This process is referred to as oxidative stress, and it’s closely associated with aging and cellular breakdown and decline. 

7. Cellular Senescence

Our cells, when functioning properly, have a programmed death. When they die, they are naturally removed from the body. 

However, as cells age, scientists have discovered that not all of them reach their programmed death date and actually die. In fact, they lose their function completely but remain in our bodies, causing a toxic and inflammatory environment. 

This process of becoming “zombie” cells is referred to as cellular senescence. 

8. Stem Cell Exhaustion

The body has a specific type of “super cell” that can shapeshift into any type of cell the body currently needs. These super cells are called stem cells, and they’re essential for helping repair damaged tissue, immune support, and red blood cell replenishment. 

Stem cell exhaustion refers to the inability of stem cells to continue to work properly. They lose their function and are no longer able to help support the body by changing into needed cells.

9. Altered Intercellular Communication

Cells communicate with one another to help carry out processes in our bodies. Keeping our bodies in a state of balance, or homeostasis, requires our cells to communicate properly. This type of communication ensures functions like glucose metabolism, cholesterol balance, mood, appetite, sleep, and immunity are all balanced and regulated. 

When cells lose their ability to communicate properly, as they do when they age, these functions also lose balance.

10. Disabled Macroautophagy

Your cells are the ultimate recycling center. Cells are able to reuse old, damaged cell parts in the creation of new cellular structures. With age, this ability declines, leading to age-related disorders and physiological changes in the body. 

Studies link disabled macroautophagy with a decreased lifespan, so learning to support your cells’ autophagy is important in lengthening your lifespan. 

11. Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s response to injury and illness, but chronic, low-level inflammation is a malfunction of the immune system. With chronic, low-level inflammation, the body’s immune system continues to produce an inflammatory response even when no danger is present. 

Proinflammatory cytokines have become useful in measuring levels of chronic inflammation that underlie conditions like cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance, as well as how frail a person has become. 

12. Dysbiosis

You’ve probably heard about gut flora, and maybe you even take a probiotic to support your gut health. The more we learn about our gut health, the more we realize how widespread its influence is in our bodies. The gut-brain axis, for instance, is a recognized communication pathway between the gut and the brain.

The gut microbiome can experience changes that can negatively impact how it functions and communicates with the rest of the body. Dysbiosis is a specific type of change in gut microflora that scientists can link to certain age-related illnesses and specific patterns of health decline in older people. 

These 12 indications of aging help us understand what’s going on in our bodies on a cellular level. The list might seem long, but the good news is that scientists are already working on ways to help us combat these hallmarks of cellular aging so we can lead a longer, healthier life. 

One way to give your cells a fighting chance as they age? Taking fatty15.

Elevate your cells. Elevate your self.

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Fatty15: Boxing Gloves for Your Cells

Through these 12 signs of cellular aging, our cells are signaling to us for help. Giving our cells the support they need means finding ways to tackle cellular decline so our cells can once again thrive. 

Fatty15 is the first and only supplement that contains a specific fatty acid that science supports as being the first essential fatty acid to be discovered in over 90 years. It is capable of strengthening our cells so we can live healthier, longer lives. That fatty acid is C15:0.

What Is C15:0?

C15:0 is an odd-chain, essential, saturated fatty acid that our bodies need to thrive but cannot readily make on their own. That means we have to get it from our diets or in supplement form. 

C15:0 repairs cells and reverses cellular aging by:

  • Keeping cell membranes strong. Our cell membranes become weak as we age. When cells lose their shape, they can’t function properly. C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that integrates into cell membranes, improving cellular strength by 80%.
  • Eliminating zombie cells. Cellular senescence leaves zombie cells circulating in our body, but C15:0 activates AMPK, a pathway that helps clear out damaged, un-dead cells that are a key driver in the cellular aging process. 
  • Bringing balance to the body’s inflammatory response. C15:0 significantly calms and lowers levels of proinflammatory cytokines, helping address another of the key hallmarks of aging. 
  • Restoring mitochondrial function. C15:0 supports mitochondrial function in two important ways. First, it decreases ROS output by 45%. Second, it increases ATP production. In one peer-reviewed study, C15:0 elevated ATP levels in cells by 350%.
  • Activating AMPK. As we learned, AMPK is essential in nutrient processing in the cells. It also plays a role in total body homeostasis, regulation of glucose uptake, and immunity. By activating AMPK, C15:0 helps restore equilibrium to these functions. 
  • Activating PPARɑ and PPARẟ receptors. These receptors govern mood and sleep and play a role in metabolic, heart, and liver health. By activating these receptors, C15:0 supports their balance and proper function. 

If you were looking for a one-stop shop for all-natural cellular support, you’ve found it. This simple fatty acid is a heavy hitter in your cells, but you probably don’t have enough of it in your diet. 

Finding C15:0

C15:0 is found primarily in whole-fat dairy products like whole milk and full-fat butter, not necessarily products you’ll want to “load up” on to restore your circulating levels of C15:0. Not to mention, plant-based milks are completely void of this essential nutrient. The best way to get it in your body is through a once-a-day supplement, and that means fatty15. 

There are a few reasons why taking a supplement to obtain this essential fatty acid may be beneficial. 

First, it's made ready to absorb. In milk (and other foods), C15:0 is attached to branches of lipids called triacylglycerides, aka triglycerides. That means our gut has to use digestive enzymes to break down these triacylglycerides to release C15:0 as a free fatty acid.

Once C15:0 is released, it is ready to be absorbed. These multiple steps can make our absorption of C15:0 from foods less efficient. In contrast, FA15™ (the vegan-friendly and sustainable version of C15:0 found in fatty15) is our proprietary powder C15:0 ingredient already in free fatty acid form. Less work for the gut, more good C15:0 for our bodies.

It's not mixed with bad saturated fats. While the good C15:0 fatty acid is present in whole-fat dairy products in trace levels, there are much higher levels of 'bad' even-chain saturated fatty acids that continue to be associated with poorer health. 

That is probably why studies evaluating the effects of milk on our health are mixed (some say dairy fat is bad for us, while others say it is good for us). Fatty15 provides just the good fat without the bad fats.

Second, it skips the cows and calories. Whole-fat dairy products provide a wallop of calories, including sugars (aka lactose), that also require livestock. Fatty15 offers a vegan-friendly C15:0, with only one calorie per dose.

Fewer calories, readily absorbable, and no animal involvement? That makes fatty15 the clear winner. 

Age Less

Your cells are a source of aging, but you don’t have to settle for the way aging cells affect your body. Take action, and give your cells what they need to thrive. Fatty15 helps support your cells and reverse cellular aging so you can lead a longer, healthier life. 


Hallmarks of aging: An expanding universe | NCBI

Autophagy and Aging | PMC

The gut microbiome as a modulator of healthy ageing | Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology

 Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential? | Scientific Reports

A review of odd-chain fatty acid metabolism and the role of pentadecanoic Acid (c15:0) and heptadecanoic Acid (c17:0) in health and disease

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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